NC-v4 LTc4: Surrounding density and diverse uses

  • Separate rewards for density and variety

    Density and diverse uses are rewarded separately in this credit. Projects can earn points in both or either of the density and diverse use options. If your project is located in a metropolitan area, it’s likely that both components can be achieved.

    There’s also hope for suburban and rural projects! If your building is located on a main street or in a transit-oriented development area, and surrounded by mixed commercial and community services, the diverse uses option may still be achievable even if the density minimums are unattainable.

    What’s New in LEED v4

    • USGBC only allows the full point value of the credit to be earned if both Option 1 and Option 2 are met.
    • All rating systems except LEED for Healthcare now have two thresholds for both options.
    • There are now separate thresholds for residential and nonresidential density calculation.
    • There are now specific project requirements for warehouses and distribution centers.
    • The density radius calculation is now defined as being 1/4 mile (400 m) from the project site.
    • Proximity calculations for diverse uses are now determined by walking distance instead of radius.
    • There are additional restrictions on how credit for diverse uses is counted.

    FAQs

    When it comes to satisfying the requirements for Option 1, what does the "total buildable land" take into account? And the "total building area"?

    “Total buildable land” represents all land within the ¼-mile radius that can be built on. This does not include streets, sidewalks, or any area that is not available for development.

    “Total building area” would account for all types of buildings and homes within the ¼ -mile radius, if the project is pursuing combined density. Note that parking garages are excluded from this.

  • LT Credit 4: Surrounding density and diverse uses

    Intent

    To conserve land and protect farmland and wildlife habitat by encouraging development in areas with existing infrastructure. To promote walkability, and transportation efficiency and reduce vehicle distance traveled. To improve public health by encouraging daily physical activity.

    Requirements

    Option 1. Surrounding density (2–3 points)

    Locate on a site whose surrounding existing density within a ¼-mile [400-meter] radius of the project boundary meets the values in Table 1. Use either the “separate residential and nonresidential densities” or the “combined density” values.

    Table 1a. Points for average density within 1/4 mile of project site (IP units)

    Combined density Separate residential and nonresidential densities Points

    BD&C (except Core and Shell)
    Points BD&C (Core and Shell) Points

    ID&C
    Square feet per acre of buildable landThe portion of the site where construction can occur, including land voluntarily set aside and not constructed on.. When used in density calculations, the calculation for buildable land excludes: public streets and other public rights of way, and land excluded from development by law or other prerequisites of LEED for Neighborhood Development. Residential density (DU/acre) Nonresidential density (FARFloor-area ratio is the density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters).)      
    22,000 7 0.5 2 2 3
    35,000 12 0.8 3 4 6



    Table 1b. Points for average density within 400 meters of project site (SI units)

    Combined density Separate residential and nonresidential densities Points

    BD&C (except Core and Shell)
    Points BD&C

    (Core and Shell)
    Points

    ID&C
    Square meters per hectare of buildable land Residential density (DU/hectare) Nonresidential density (FAR)      
    5,050 17.5 0.5 2 2 3
    8,035 30 0.8 3 4 6





    DU = dwelling unit; FAR = floor-area ratioThe density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters)..

    AND/OR

    Option 2. Diverse uses (1–2 points)

    Construct or renovate a building or a space within a building such that the building’s main entrance is within a ½-mile (800-meter) walking distance of the main entrance of four to seven (1 point) or eight or more (2 points) existing and publicly available diverse uses (listed in Appendix 1).

    The following restrictions apply.

    • A use counts as only one type (e.g., a retail store may be counted only once even if it sells products in several categories).
    • No more than two uses in each use type may be counted (e.g. if five restaurants are within walking distance, only two may be counted).
    • The counted uses must represent at least three of the five categories, exclusive of the building’s primary use.

    Appendix 1. Use types and categories

    SITES-LEED Equivalency

    This LEED credit (or a component of this credit) has been established as equivalent to a SITES v2 credit or component. For more information on using the equivalency as a substitution in your LEED or SITES project, see this article and guidance document.


Design Submittal

PencilDocumentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.

30 Comments

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Peter Doo President Doo Consulting, LLC
Feb 15 2017
LEEDuser Member
3725 Thumbs Up

Residential on a university campus.

Project Location: United States

How are student residence halls classified on a college campus? Since these buildings are not occupied throughout the year and the residents change from one year to the next, do we include them in our residential density calculation the same as private apartments or condos?

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Blake Jackson Sustainable Practice Leader, Tsoi/Kobus & Associates Feb 17 2017 LEEDuser Expert 128 Thumbs Up

In the past, I have successfully used residence halls to satisfy the residential density quota on US projects for documenting this credit. While transient in nature, residence halls tend to be occupied year round, and their proximity within campuses encourages the occupants to walk/rely on alternative transit options, which is in the spirit of this credit.

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Gina Rossi Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Dec 14 2016
Guest

Diverse "publicly available" use

Project Location: United States

Working on a NC project on a private college campus and wondering how rigid USGBC is in defining "publicly available". As an example, the public can enter the library but cannot check out material without having an affiliation (generally monetary) with the university. In general, services are plentiful within 1/4 mile and while not closed of from the public, are highly focused towards students and staff.

Is a private university campus viewed differently, in the eyes of LEED, than a public university?

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Blake Jackson Sustainable Practice Leader, Tsoi/Kobus & Associates Jan 23 2017 LEEDuser Expert 128 Thumbs Up

Gina, it really depends on the specific LEED reviewer's interpretation. If you have another use available to you, you may want to use it instead to document compliance with greater certainty (presumably you're documenting Surrounding Density A measure of the total building floor area or dwelling units on a parcel of land relative to the buildable land of that parcel. Units for measuring density may differ according to credit requirements. Does not include structured parking.& Diverse Uses?). If you need this to count, I would make the argument that the public is allowed to enter and can peruse materials for personal use during business hours without the need of an affiliation. I know that I do this with the Harvard Library often, which is right around the corner from my office, when they have on hand a reference material we need access to and do not have ourselves. To my knowledge, there is no distinction between public and private universities in the eyes of LEED, and in the past, I have gotten away with this on private university LEED documentation - although I used public libraries and gyms, rather than university amenities for my purposes.

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Sarah Burnett
Nov 11 2016
Guest
2 Thumbs Up

Nonresidential Density (FAR)

Project Location: United States

Hello!

Quick question about the Nonresidential Density A measure of the total building floor area or dwelling units on a parcel of land relative to the buildable land of that parcel. Units for measuring density may differ according to credit requirements. Does not include structured parking.(FARFloor-area ratio is the density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters).) -

Our site is located in the heart of a very dense urban area, the residential density exceeds the requirement and so does the Nonresidential density, almost... There is one property on the very edge of the 1/4-mile radius that is a Used Car business. This lot is quite large since they are using the parking lot to sell their product and only have a few smaller structures, needless to say this site does not meet the FAR minimum of 0.5. When we average the total FAR for all Nonresidential this behemoth brings everything down. Is there any sort of exception to the Nonresidential calculation for circumstances like this? The project location most definitely meets the intent of this category and it seems like a waste to lose 2 points for one business who uses the exterior surface lot as a show room.

Advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Nov 21 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Sarah,
There are no LEED interpretations or other published guidance I can find to address this issue. My advice would be to pursue combined density rather than separate residential and non-residential density. Because you noted above the residential density exceeds the requirement, this delta may be enough to make up for the lack in non-residential density.

If the combined path reveals the same shortage in density, you may be able to reason that the surface lot of the Used Car business should be counted as "floor area" rather than surrounding site and/or be able to exclude this square footage from the density boundary. LEED has an exception for parking garages allowing them to be completely excluded from the density boundary. This is the only requirement within the RG that may help set a precedent to make the argument.
I hope this helps!

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sepideh khodadadi
Nov 07 2016
Guest
9 Thumbs Up

diverse uses

our project is a big shopping center with almost all the diverse uses (such as restaurant,bank,etc.)
can that help us get the credit without calculating the surrounding diverse uses?

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Nov 21 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Sepideh,
That would depend on which options within the credit you are pursuing. For option 1, surrounding density, no the shopping center will not help you achieve these points without calculating the surrounding density.

For option 2, diverse uses, yes the stores within the shopping center will be able to contribute towards the diverse uses. Ensure the shopping center has the correct type and number of diverse uses in order to achieve the credit, or you may have to look at the uses surrounding the building as well.
Hope this helps!

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Michelle Rosenberger Partner ArchEcology, LLC
Oct 17 2016
LEEDuser Member
8973 Thumbs Up

Primary vs. Functional Entry

This credit measures walking distance from the building's "main entrance" while the transit access credit specifies measurement from any "functional entrance". On a large project, this could be a pretty big disparity in distance between these two entries. Is anyone aware of the rationale for why this is different? Why should this credit be limited only to the main entry, rather than being able to acknowledge a functional entryA building entryway that is designed to be used by pedestrians and is open during regular business hours. This does not include any door that is exclusively designated as an emergency exit, or a garage door that is not designed as an entrance for pedestrians.?

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Nov 21 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Michelle,
LEED does not offer specific reasoning behind the different wording between access to diverse uses and access to transit. My thought is that when it comes to diverse uses, it is assumed that building occupants will be walking to each diverse use, and typically the main entrance to the building is the best entrance to serve pedestrian occupants. It also ensures the majority of occupants have access to the diverse uses rather than a smaller sub-set of occupants that have access to a different entrance and different services.

For access to transit, my thought is that occupants may have to bike or use another form of transportation to access the public transit, which is why any functional entryA building entryway that is designed to be used by pedestrians and is open during regular business hours. This does not include any door that is exclusively designated as an emergency exit, or a garage door that is not designed as an entrance for pedestrians. may be used in case a bike storage room is not located next to the main entrance. Also, transit stops do not move and are more scarce than diverse uses (in most cases), and therefore it may be difficult to earn the credit if only transit stops that meet the requirement for the main door are used. For diverse uses, it is likely assumed that, because they can be located anywhere within 0.5 miles, it would not be difficult to achieve from the main entrance only.

Again, this is just a best guess as LEED does not offer rationale for this specific wording issue.
Hope this helps!

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Dana Waters Air Pollution Specialist California Air Resources Board
Jan 27 2016
Guest
9 Thumbs Up

Surrounding Density - Previously Developed Site

Project Location: United States

In the Required Documentation section of the Reference Guide, it states that a project must provide a "description of the previous development on the site." How does USGBC define the "site" in this context?

Is the "site" limited to the project site or does it include all of the surrounding development within a 1/4 mile radius of the project site?

The definition of "previously developed siteA site that, prior to the project, consisted of at least 75% previously developed land.," states, "a site, that prior to the project, consisted of at least 75% previously developedAltered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Land that is not previously developed and landscapes altered by current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development. land."

My interpretation of this credit is that "site" is limited to the project site. As a result, if a project site has not been previously developed, then it cannot qualify for any points for the Surrounding Density portion of this credit.

Do others agree? Please confirm.

Thanks!

Dana

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Feb 08 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Dana,
Previously developed sites do not have an effect on this credit. Yes, the reference guide notes that a description of the site must be provided, but having documented this credit for LEED projects, there is nothing within the form or documentation requirements on LEED Online that make you provide this narrative, so I am not sure what the reference guide is referring to here. Your project should be able to earn any points for density or diverse uses, even if it is a non-previously developedAltered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Land that is not previously developed and landscapes altered by current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development. site, as long as it meets the required thresholds.
Hope that helps!

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Noriko Yasuhara Woonerf Inc.
Jan 15 2016
LEEDuser Member
3550 Thumbs Up

n/a

We have a question regarding density radius. For density calculation, surrouinding properties should be included if the entire sites are within the density radius, or only a portion of sites are within the density radius?

We understand that, under BD+C v2009 rating system, we should take all properties into account if a property is within or intersected by the density radius. Has it been changed under v4?

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Jan 15 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Noriko,
This issue does not have a clear resolution in the reference guide. However, in v4 the 1/4 mile radius begins at the edge of the project boundary, so adjusting the radius out to begin at that point, may help include larger pieces of the surrounding properties. I would say a good rule of thumb, is if ~50% of the building is within the property, you can include it. However, this can be flexible, and my recommendation would be to provide a narrative to justify including any properties that fall right on the border with your submission.
Hope this helps!

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Rita Haberman Brightworks
Jan 11 2016
LEEDuser Member
386 Thumbs Up

Using v4 requirements on a v3 project

Our project is hoping to use the v4 criteria (diverse uses) to meet the requirements for a v3 project. The article about substituting credits is not completely clarifying the threshold of the v4 credit that needs to be complied with.

The table says "Project teams must earn the highest threshold on both of the LEED v4 credit options to earn the LEED v2009 points (5 points under v2009 Development density and community connectivity)" which sounds like you need to meet the highest threshold in BOTH options within the v4 credit to comply for v3.

Does anyone know if in fact you need to meet both options under the v4 credit, or if you only need to meet the highest threshold of 1 option for SSc2? Can you get points for just meeting one of the options. 4 or 2 points?

Thanks!

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Jan 12 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Rita,
My hunch is, if it is published on their website that in order to substitute, you must meet the highest requirement thresholds for development density and community connectivity, that there is no way around the requirement. USGBC will most likely want anyone substituting this credit to fully pilot the v4 credit so they can get project teams to have more exposure to the new rating system.

Note, the requirements for community connectivity are very similar to v3. The main difference is v4 encourages selecting greater diversity of services.
Hope this helps!

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Denise Bates Sr Interior Designer, Gensler May 23 2016 LEEDuser Member 22 Thumbs Up

you do have to meet both paths to comply. one of the other key differences between v3 and v4 is that v4 removes the greenfield exclusion.

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Charline Seytier CEO, Co-owner. LEED AP BD+C ThemaVerde, France
Jan 05 2016
LEEDuser Member
1096 Thumbs Up

Nearby Non-residential Building Under Construction

Hi All,

Currently working on a project with a nearby building under construction. We anticipate the building construction to finish slightly after our project. Could we include this new building in the density calculation?

Thanks for your help,

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Jan 05 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Charline,
The Reference Guide does not explicitly give an answer to your question, however I believe that this would be allowed under LEED v4. Referencing the Access to Quality Transit credit, planned transit sites are allowed to be counted if they are funded, under construction by the date of certificate of occupancy for the project building, and will be completed within 24 months of that date. If all of those parameters hold true for the nearby building under construction, I would reason it can be included in the density calculations.
Hope that helps!

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Charline Seytier CEO, Co-owner. LEED AP BD+C, ThemaVerde, France Jan 06 2016 LEEDuser Member 1096 Thumbs Up

Hi Kimberly,

Thank you for your quick response!
Do you know in terms of documentation what would be required by the USGBC?
We currently have a site plan of the building from the architect of the project and a presentation of the project.

Thanks again!

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Jan 08 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Charline,
That sounds appropriate to me. The other thing that GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). may want to see is the construction schedule, so they can verify when the building will be completed.

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Kevin Dunphy Project Coordinator, LEED AP BD+C Holabird & Root
Aug 24 2015
Guest
17 Thumbs Up

Diverse Uses: Community Anchor Uses: Housing

Project Location: United States

I am looking to pursue the Option 2 "Diverse Uses" method. In Appendix 1 (Use Types and Categories) that this option references, under the category "Community Anchor Uses," is the use "Housing (100 or more dwelling units)." Must these dwelling units be contained all in one building to qualify as a use for this credit? If not, do they have to be contained within a single development? Or can they be a combination of residential sites scattered throughout the 1/2 mile walking distance from the site?

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Aug 28 2015 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Kevin,
In the Reference Guide in Appendix 1, the only Community anchor uses I see in the table is Commercial office (100 or more full-time equivalentFull-time equivalent (FTE) represents a regular building occupant who spends 40 hours per week in the project building. Part-time or overtime occupants have FTE values based on their hours per week divided by 40. Multiple shifts are included or excluded depending on the intent and requirements of the credit. jobs). Can you direct me to where you are seeing the Housing line item?

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Charalampos Giannikopoulos Senior Sustainability Consultant DCarbon
Sep 25 2014
LEEDuser Member
1836 Thumbs Up

Combined Density

If a project follows Option 1 - combined density, would the project be still eligible even if there are no residential units within the 1/4 radius? Normally, it should be, otherwise what would be the point for offering the option to use the combined density and not the separate ones instead?

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Valentin Grimaud Thermal Engineer, TERAO Green Building Engineering Dec 01 2014 LEEDuser Member 1335 Thumbs Up

I have the same understanding as you. Besides, if we look at the metrics, the combined density of 5050m²/ha is pretty similar or slightly above the requirements for separate density (17.5DU/ha means about 288m²/DU and 0.5 FARFloor-area ratio is the density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters). means about 5000m²/ha).

Therefore in terms of density, I think it is equivalent.

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Tim Bell LEED AP AECOM
Sep 22 2014
LEEDuser Member
11 Thumbs Up

Surrounding density and Diverse Uses

Project Location: South Africa

I am currently working on a major project in South Africa that will provide diverse uses to the building occupants only as the site is fully enclosed for security reasons. The credit states that these uses should be publically available. Has anyone heard of exemptions being made for sites that provide the facilities but are not available publically due to security reasons?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Mar 10 2016 LEEDuser Moderator

Tim, I haven't heard of this. I seem to recall this coming up on military bases, but in that situation the services are at least available to the entire base, and not just building occupants. I think the situation you describe makes the building not a good fit for meeting the credit requirements.

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Edgar Arevalo
Jul 08 2014
Guest
52 Thumbs Up

Option 1

When it comes to satisfying the requirements for option 1, does the "total buildable landThe portion of the site where construction can occur, including land voluntarily set aside and not constructed on.. When used in density calculations, the calculation for buildable land excludes: public streets and other public rights of way, and land excluded from development by law or other prerequisites of LEED for Neighborhood Development." represent land (or street blocks) that contain only homes, homes and residential buildings, or only residential buildings?

And does the "total building area" account for all types of buildings, and homes, within the 1/4 mile radius of the project site?

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Annalise Reichert Project Manager, stok Jan 05 2016 LEEDuser Member 528 Thumbs Up

I have similar confusion regarding the combined density; if the site must be located on existing density, what does the combined density measured in sf of buildable landThe portion of the site where construction can occur, including land voluntarily set aside and not constructed on.. When used in density calculations, the calculation for buildable land excludes: public streets and other public rights of way, and land excluded from development by law or other prerequisites of LEED for Neighborhood Development. mean?

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Kimberly Schlaepfer Sustainability Coordinator LEED AP O+M, BD+C, YR&G Jan 05 2016 LEEDuser Expert 878 Thumbs Up

Hi Edgar,
First, "total buildable landThe portion of the site where construction can occur, including land voluntarily set aside and not constructed on.. When used in density calculations, the calculation for buildable land excludes: public streets and other public rights of way, and land excluded from development by law or other prerequisites of LEED for Neighborhood Development." represents all land within the 1/4 mile radius that can be built on. This does not include streets, sidewalks, or any area that is not available for development. To answer your question specifically it would include both land that contains home and residential buildings.

Next, the "total building area" would account for all types of buildings and homes within the 1/4 mile radius, if the project is pursuing combined density. Note that parking garages are excluded from this.

Annalise - the square feet per acre of buildable land represents the total square footage of all buildings within the 1/4 mile radius divided by the total acres contained in that 1/4 mile radius (125.66 acres in a 1/4 mile radius circle).

Hope this helps!

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